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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Daily Glow Releases Best And Worst Skin Cities

In terms of skin in the game, where you live has a big impact on your skin health. Just in time for the summer, beauty and skin care Web site Daily Glow released a list of the best and worst American cities for your skin.

“Skin health is a combination of environmental, lifestyle and genetic factors,” says Daily Glow skin and beauty expert Jessica Wu, MD. “It’s important for Americans to understand that it is never too late to protect their skin and reverse sun damage – and that even the smallest changes have the power to save and protect their skin for years to come.”

If your town isn’t ranked, here are some of the key factors in your environment that are affecting your skin’s health.

UV exposure: Sunshine year-round might sound like tons of fun, but it can also harm your skin. UV radiation is the main factor responsible for skin cancer, as well as sunburns and premature aging. Some of the most highly ranked cities have long winters and plenty of cloudy protection. Of course, weather isn’t the only factor. For example, cities in higher elevations tend to have more exposure to UV rays because of less cloud cover.

Pollution levels: Free radicals from pollution can damage the skin’s DNA and actually worsen the effects of ultraviolet rays on skin, so try to stay inside on those high-ozone days.

Smoking rates among adults: Smoking damages blood vessels that transport nutrients to skin tissue. With high taxes and bans, some cities have drastically reduced cigarette use.

Skin care doctors per capita: Some cities are flush with skin doctors while others, like Memphis, are under-served by dermatologists.

Physical activity: Exercise helps to boost oxygen and blood flow to the skin, makes you sweat to purge toxins from your pores and eases stress, among other benefits.

Number of tanning beds: No matter how many health warnings you’ve heard about indoor tanning, it’s still a trend that’s not going away any time soon. But it’s more popular in some cities than others. San Francisco scores low on number of tanning beds; Fort Worth scores high on number of tanning beds.

Incidences of melanoma:  The most dangerous type of skin cancer is prevalent in certain cities, such as San Diego.

Adults who’ve experienced a sunburn: Even in spite of constant sun, some cities are more vigilant than others about sun protection. Sunscreens need to protect against both UVA and UVB rays, according to a dermatologist cited in the report. Zinc-oxide sunscreen, for example, is a physical block that doesn’t have chemicals that degrade over time. Hats are also a great way to prevent sun exposure.

Here are some other fun facts Daily Glow’s study turned up:

The Best Cities For Your Skin

  • Portland, Ore., ranks as the best city for the skin because its long rainy season keeps people out of the sun, in addition to its low pollution and healthy lifestyle.
  • San Francisco has the lowest number of tanning beds per capita in the United States.
  • Baltimore has one of the lowest incidences of melanoma in the country, possibly because of local world-class healthcare resources.
  • Hawaii might enjoy its time in the sun, but the state is also known for the lowest rate of air-particle pollution in the country. The city has zero high-ozone days.
  • Boston contains the highest number of dermatologists per capita.
  • Austin has the most physically active population in the country, with 36.5 percent of adults engaging in vigorous physical activity for more than 20 minutes three times a week, according to the Census Bureau. That’s good news for their bodies as well as their skin.

The Worst Cities For Your Skin

  • Las Vegas ranks worst for skin health. More than a fifth of its residents smoke. Its sunny, parched weather also leads to stressed out skin.
  • Los Angeles has the highest number of high ozone days (about a quarter of the year). The mountains around the city trap its abundant traffic pollution.
  • San Diego has 29.1 melanoma-incident cases per 100,000 people, making it the city with the most melanoma cases in the country.
  • Memphis’ residents exercise less than the people of any other city in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Fort Worth has a huge number of tanning beds. One dermatologist quips that there’s practically one on every block. The city passed a law banning minors 16 and younger from tanning beds.
  • Tulsa has the highest skin-cancer death rate in the country, with 4.1 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the National Cancer Institute.

‘Fish Pedicure’ a Recipe for Bacterial Infection

“Fish pedicures” in health spas can expose recipients to a host of pathogens and bacterial infections, a team of researchers warns.

The practice of exposing your feet to live freshwater fish that eat away dead ordamaged skin for mainly cosmetic reasons has been banned in many (but not all) American states, but it is apparently a hot trend in Britain.

So much so that the British researchers sent their warning in a letter published in the June issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officially known as “ichthyotherapy,” the procedure typically involves the importation of what are called “doctor fish,” a Eurasian river basin species known as “Garra rufa.” The fish are placed in a spa tub, the foot (or even whole body) joins it, and the nautical feeding on dead or unwanted skin begins.

The problem: such fish may play host to a wide array of organisms and disease, some of which can provoke invasive soft-tissue infection in exposed humans and many of which are antibiotic-resistant, according to the scientists from the Center for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) in Weymouth.

In the letter, CEFAS team leader David W. Verner-Jeffreys referenced a 2011 survey that suggested the U.K. is now home to 279-plus “fish spas,” with an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 fish coming into the country every week from a host of Asian countries.

Verner-Jeffreys noted that in April 2011, 6,000 fish imported from Indonesia for U.K. fish spas were affected by a disease outbreak that caused hemorrhaging of their gills, mouth and abdomen, resulting in the death of nearly all the specimens.

In turn, U.K. scientists uncovered signs of bacterial infection (caused by a pathogen called “S agalactiae”) in the fishes’ livers, kidneys and spleen.

Following this discovery, Verner-Jeffreys said, his team conducted five raids on imported fish batches coming through Heathrow Airport, which uncovered further signs of infection with a number of additional pathogens. Many of those were found to be resistant to such standard antimicrobial drugs as tetracycline, fluoroquinolone and aminoglycoside.

“To date, there are only a limited number of reports of patients who might have been infected by this exposure route,” Verner-Jeffreys said in his letter. “However, our study raises some concerns over the extent that these fish, or their transport water, might harbor potential zoonotic disease pathogens of clinical relevance.”

At particularly high risk, the scientists said, were people already struggling withdiabetes, liver disease and/or immune disorders.

Verner-Jeffreys suggested that spas offering fish pedicures use disease-free fish raised in controlled environments.

George A. O’Toole, a professor in the department of microbiology and immunology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., added his own concern.

“I would stay away from this experience,” he said. “It’s probably not feasible to sterilize these fish. And as for the water itself, even if you dump it between patients, these organisms will form rings of biofilm communities attached to the surface of the tubs themselves. It’s like a contact lens case that you never disinfect. Simply wiping them down is not good enough. Unless you’re incredibly responsible about sterilizing those tubs you’re not going to kill them, and they will reseed the next batch of water. The whole thing is a bad idea.”

Dr. Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and pathology at New York University Medical Center in New York City, agreed.

“It’s a bad idea in several ways,” he said. “Because these pathogens can give you a serious wound infection. Or blood-borne infection. Or diarrhea. Or even pose a threat to a pregnant woman’s fetus or newborn.”

“Really, you have the potential for multiple types of infection,” Tierno added. “Because theoretically when you’re touching the area that has been nibbled on by these fish, you can still have the organisms there. And then you can inadvertently touch your mouth and introduce them into your system.”

The Best Relief for Cold-Induced Hives

For most people, hives are a temporary allergic reaction to an avoidable trigger, such as shellfish or laundry detergent. But for some others, they may come on without warning or explanation and reappear regularly for months or even years. If you have cold urticaria, or cold-induced hives, for example, you may experience an allergic response anytime you’re exposed to low temperatures. This response could range from itchy to life-threatening.

With cold urticaria, the body’s response is similar to some other types of allergic reactions. Instead of being caused by contact with a specific material or substance, however — for example, the latex in surgical gloves and bandages — the hives are triggered by exposure to cold, or even by your skin temperature returning to normal after a sudden drop in temperature, such as jumping into and then getting out of icy water. It’s as if you’re allergic to cold.

“The cells that create hives are called mast cells,” says dermatologist Carolyn Jacob, MD, director of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology. “They release histamine. But we don’t quite understand why the mast cells respond to temperature changes.”

Symptoms of Cold Urticaria

Symptoms of cold hives can be mild to severe. They include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Redness
  • Large welts
  • Swollen lips and mouth after exposure to cold drinks
  • Anaphylaxis, the most severe allergic reaction, which can cause difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, and even death

Diagnosing Chronic Hives vs. Cold Urticaria

Cold urticaria can happen without a known cause, but it often runs in families, explains Dr. Jacob. It is diagnosed, in part, by observing the events that trigger it, such as:

  • Exposure to low seasonal temperatures
  • Swimming in or falling into cold water
  • Eating cold foods
  • Drinking cold drinks
  • Handling cold objects
  • Water evaporating off the skin

Your doctor will typically use a cold stimulation time test (CSTT) to confirm the diagnosis. This involves placing an ice pack on an area of skin. If you have cold urticaria, the skin under and around the ice will become itchy and inflamed.

Hives Relief Treatment

The best approach to manage cold urticaria is to avoid trigger situations, such as jumping into an icy lake or, for some people, even just gulping very cold liquids.

Other strategies your doctor might advise for hives treatment include:

  • Staying warm. Avoid long walks in wintery weather, and if you must go outside, cover up as much exposed skin as possible.
  • Identifying and avoiding other triggers. Cold might be one trigger, but if your skin is irritated throughout the winter, consider that dryness, the clothes you wear (for example, wool), and even your fabric softener or soap could aggravate your skin, too.
  • Taking medication. Your doctor might recommend a daily nondrowsy antihistamine to control your allergic response. Glucocorticoid steroids are also sometimes used to provide hives relief.
  • Carrying an EpiPen. If you could have a severe, life-threatening response, you will need to carry an epinephrine pen to self-administer in an emergency, says Jacob.

Working with your medical team will help you manage your chronic hives and keep them from limiting your activities.

Can Facial Flaws Cost You the Job?

Birthmarks, scars and other facialblemishes may make it harder for people to land a job, new research suggests.

This is because interviewers can be distracted by unusual facial features and recall less information about job candidates, according to the investigators at Rice University and the University of Houston.

“When evaluating applicants in an interview setting, it’s important to remember what they are saying,” Mikki Hebl, a psychology professor at Rice University, said in a university news release. “Our research shows if you recall less information about competent candidates because you are distracted by characteristics on their face, it decreases your overall evaluations of them.”

One experiment involved about 170 undergraduate students who conducted mock interviews via a computer while their eye activity was tracked. The more the interviewers’ attention was distracted by facial blemishes, the less they remembered about the job candidate and the lower they rated them.

In a second experiment, 38 full-time managers conducted face-to-face interviews with job candidates who had a facial birthmark. All the managers had experience interviewing people for jobs but were still distracted by the birthmarks.

“The bottom line is that how your face looks can significantly influence the success of an interview,” Hebl said. “There have been many studies showing that specific groups of people are discriminated against in the workplace, but this study takes it a step further, showing why it happens. The allocation of attention away from memory for the interview content explains this.”

The findings were recently published online in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

The investigators said they hoped their research would help raise awareness about this type of workplace discrimination.